The House’s Republican oversight chief Rep. Darrell Issa clarified Thursday afternoon that despite reports to the contrary, he does not have plans to convene a public hearing questioning the Department of Labor’s September jobs figures.
“While Chairman Issa, in response to a question asked yesterday, did state that he believes there are legitimate questions about the Department of Labor’s method for calculating unemployment, the Oversight Committee has not announced or decided to hold hearings on the September unemployment report,” a spokesperson for Issa told TPM. “Chairman Issa specifically pointed to the frequent revisions that the Department of Labor often makes to its own numbers in questioning whether more can be done to ensure that they accurately reflect the state of our nation’s job market. At no point did he say he has made plans to convene a hearing on this subject.”
On Thursday, Fox Business Channel aired an interview with Issa and quickly distributed an edited down version of the segment, reporting that he intends to investigate the Labor Department over the survey. The monthly report — which estimated that the unemployment rate has fallen from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent — spawned conspiracy theories among many conservatives, starting with former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who insisted with no evidence that the Obama campaign had cooked the numbers.
“The way it is being done with the constant revisions say it is not as exact science as it needs to be, and there has to be a better way to get those numbers — or don’t put them out if they will be wrong but as much as half a point,” Issa told Fox Business. “We very much intend to work every day through the November and December time to get these kinds of things done. We think that is a non-partisan time and this is an issue where our committee has important jurisdiction to make sure we get it right.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.